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Collie's Musings

A zine discussion on a gaming product that had tucked into it some rather narrow-minded and reprehensible propaganda -- from "Firestarter 18."

Copyright © 2000 B. "Collie" Collier


Exclusion in a Gaming Product

The only other incident I've personally experienced concerning injecting 'christian values' into gaming was when Paul Jaquays decided to write up the third of the Central Casting books to advocate his christian religious principles.

The first two Central Casting books were very nice products you could use to generate an interesting and varied background for your character. They both had tables to determine your "light side" and "dark side" traits, based on your character's generated background. The more unsavory experiences you had (raised by thieves, or sold into slavery, etc.), the more dark side traits you might have. The more wholesome experiences you had, the more light side traits. One of the books was for sword & sorcery type characters, the other for supers and science fiction. The third was intended for 'modern day' characters.

Mr. Jacquays represented contentious views in the real world as having an absolute moral value, by saying that things like homosexuality or partnership outside of (quoted from the book) "Christian marriage" were "deviant" dark-side traits. He also put in a number of game mechanics that made those things disadvantageous. How incredibly insulting to anyone married in the Hindu or Islamic or any other faith! In essence Jacquays did precisely what some christian groups accuse gamers of doing -- he used the book to push his religious beliefs, and the game to represent his views of his cult as the normative default.

For him to say this was Central Casting Book III was misleading, at best. The material was very much at odds with the contents of the previous books -- with no warning on the cover. If someone published a book on gaming etiquette which said everyone should wear their bunny tails to all games because anyone who doesn't is evil and wrong, we'd look at them like they were nuts. And yet, Jacquays basically did exactly that sort of absolutist thinking. His self-righteous "Political Correctness Warning" at the beginning of the book merely pointed up the fact that he really didn't give a damn about what the people who bought the book thought. The fact that I find his views narrow-minded and self-centered simply strengthens my distaste for this underhanded proselytizing. I would be equally repulsed regardless of what form of bigotry, religious or otherwise, was being so forced on me.

Here it is in its entirety:

"Political Correctness" Warning

It was decided well in advance that this book would definitely not be "politically correct." In fact, its contents tend toward the socially, politically, morally, ethically, and religiously conservative side. To tell the truth, the authors and editors think our heritage of western culture, heterosexuality, traditional families, Judeo-Christian values, Jesus Christ and God are all pretty neat. While we won't force them on you, we do recommend them to everybody - your life can only better [sic] for it. As such, this book contains expressions of the authors' personal value structures that could be quite unpopular with those who assign equal value to all cultures, religions, lifestyles, sexual, or moral choices.

As to those who may feel that adventure gaming is an incorrect form in which to express editorial views on these matters, just look at the burgeoning presence of opposing views and decomposing values aired in television, movies, books, "art," public schools, the news and indeed, adventure gaming itself. It's difficult to buck the trends, but someone has to balance the scales. Consider this book to be one of the "Op-Ed" pages in gaming.

So if your sensibilities will be offended by exposure to values other than those of the "pop" philosophies of the moment, you had best return this book to the shelf now. We'd sure like you to buy it, but not at the cost of compromising our own beliefs.

Paul Jacquays
May 26, 1991

It is precisely this type of self-righteous moralizing that gives Christianity a black eye. When we at Planet 10 (the game store I managed for several years) found out what he had done in this book, with no advance or visible (on the cover) warning, we felt compelled to offer our customers an opportunity to return this book for full value. Many availed themselves of this offer.

This is a bit of e-mail from a friend:

Heroes Now, now there's a product (and line) that I ought to review. Have you already sent your comments in? I own the first three (don't know if there are any more), and I found it offensive, on several counts. I loved the first two, but won't buy any more in the series because of his rant, and commentary. Are you still taking comments?

Certainly -- I have no problems with sending in more letters of complaint about rude, self-aggrandizing prosyletizing. In fact, feel free to ask others in WIG
[Women in Gaming - a web group] if they'd like to comment too (you can have them send it to me if you don't want more mail), and I'll make up a new letter incorporating the new batch of complaints -- or kudos, if there are any! ;-)

To you the reader of this web page: The company that puts out the Central Casting books is Task Force Games. I'm happy to say that the first one, "Heroes of Legend," has been reprinted. I'm hoping they manage to sell through on the second one as well, and it also goes to reprint, as they're both excellent and helpful books. However, I certainly don't wish to see the third one reprinted -- at least not without some heavy editing first. Therefore, if you'd like to join me in complaining about the third in the Central Casting books (titled "Heroes Now"), may I encourage you to go to the Task Force Games web site, and do so? I'm also happy to take comments, as noted above, and send them on.

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Last Updated: Sun Mar 11 2000

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